Remember Leading Cause of Accidents and Farm Fatalities This Fall

Don't get lured to sleep by talk of grain bin accidents.

Published on: Oct 27, 2011

Gain bin accidents are deadly, either form suffocation inside a bin, inside a semi-trailer, or from falls, or from being caught in an auger. And this is the time of year when more farmers and their families are working around grain bins on their farms, or dumping corn into trucks and hauling it in from the field.

It's hard to stress enough that you simply shouldn't even enter a grain bin with the unloading auger running. That could be happening now as you move grain from one bin to another, or it may happen later after harvest, when you begin hauling grain out. The best policy if you're going into a bin for any reason, include checking condition of the grain, and no one else is around, is to lock out the power service to the unloading auger so that another farm employee couldn't start using it, not realizing you're in the bin.

With all that said, the number one cause of farm deaths, injuries and pain and suffering each year, for almost every year since Bill Field has kept the statistics, some three decades now, is not grain bin accidents. It's accidents involving tractors, especially tractor overturns. Every year, almost without fail, tractors figure into almost half of the fatal accidents on the farm. Usually, half of those are tractor overturns.

It's difficult to get people excited about these types of accidents, because they don't get the immediate coverage as does someone trapped in a bin. However, they're just as deadly, and occur at a much more alarming pace. The lion's share of them are overturn accidents involving tractors that are older and are not equipped with a cab or ROPS unit. ROPS sands for rollover protective device. Thinking that farmers are going to install them on tractors considered antiques but still used, like Farmall Ms, is not realistic.

The alternative is to remind people to be careful using any tractor, especially older ones without protection, or to park them. Many of those also have tricycle front-ends, which tend to be less stable on rough terrain. Remind anyone using those tractors to try to pull a load to hook chains to the drawbar, not the axle. Otherwise, the tractor could rotate around the axle if it can't pull the stuck load, quickly pinning the driver underneath, often killing him or her.

So be careful out there- both in grain bins this fall and on tractors.